Air strike strong message to Pak

Students celebrate after Indian Air Force's major preemptive strike in Balakot on Jaish-e-Mohammed's camps, in Mumbai, on Feb. 26, 2019. PTI

The attack carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on a terrorist camp beyond the Line of Control (LoC) was not unexpected. Ever since the terrorist attack in Pulwama on February 14, it was a matter of when, how and where India would strike back in retribution. The IAF’s Mirage 2000 aircraft hit a camp at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said to be the largest training camp for terrorists. It is significant that the attack was in Pakistan’s territory, and not in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, where skirmishes and cross-LoC actions are not uncommon. The Balakot camp was headed by Yusuf Azhar, brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack and many others in the past. Government sources have unofficially claimed that some 300 terrorists have been eliminated in the air strike, although confirmation is awaited of the actual casualties caused.

With its action, India has sent out a strong message to Pakistan that support for and orchestration of terrorism against this country will not go unpunished. India has described the action as a “non-military pre-emptive strike’’, emphasising that the aim was to pre-empt further attacks by terrorists and that the target was not Pakistan’s military but the terrorists operating from that country. It has also shown that it is ready to take on the terrorists deep inside Pakistani territory. Pakistan has always denied its involvement in terrorist actions in India and refused to take action against terrorists and their masterminds. The denials have never been credible, and India has repeatedly pointed this out.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has called the Indian action “aggression” and said that Pakistan has the right to retaliate. Pakistani forces have opened fire across the LoC and the international border. Rather than escalate the situation with more provocations, Pakistan should do the minimum that is needed to keep the peace — which is to eliminate the bases of terrorist groups and take action against them. India should further scale up its diplomatic efforts to convince the world of its position. More importantly, the air strike should not be used to arouse jingoistic sentiments in the country or for political exploitation and posturing. The problem in Kashmir will not be solved with an attack on terrorists across the border. It has to be solved within Kashmir, with an outreach to the people of the state and through dialogue and reconciliation, not through repression and alienation. It is the government’s repressive policies that worsened the situation in the state. Punishment should be reserved for terrorists from across the border; with our own people in Kashmir, a humane and political approach, not confrontation and use of arms, will make the difference. 

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